Thousands of survivors of the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks and families of first responders and others who died have sued Saudi Arabia in federal court. The lawsuit accuses the oil-rich country of funding al-Qaida’s attacks on the World Trade Center and providing cover to Osama bin Laden and his network of terrorists.
The personal injury and wrongful death lawsuit was filed March 20, 2017 in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. The lawsuit alleges that Saudi Arabia as a vital player in funding al- the attacks on September 11, 2001, Newsday reports. The plaintiffs ask for unspecified damages, saying the Saudis “intentionally aided, abetted and counseled al-Qaida.”
Lawsuit Alleges Saudi Financing and Aid to al-Qaida
The lawsuit alleges that senior Saudi officials and al-Qaida operatives used a complicate of transfers to send millions of dollars to the terrorists. Some of the businesses through which the money was funneled were run by bin Laden’s friends and a brother-in-law.
The lawsuit further alleges that Saudi Arabia directed government employees, including diplomats, to help the 19 hijackers once they landed in the United States. Fifteen of the hijackers were Saudi citizens. The assistance included safe houses for the hijackers, bogus passports, weapons, cash and equipment, according to the legal complaint. “We’re going to find out what actually happened on 9/11,” said one of the plaintiffs, a retired FDNY deputy chief who responded to the attacks and later carried out the body of his son, a firefighter. He said lawsuit will provide long-sought answers and
The Saudi embassy in Washington, D.C., declined to comment on the lawsuit filing.
An attorney who represents some of the plaintiffs said it is time to expose the 9/11 money trail, whether it went through the Saudi government or other countries. The attorney said he hopes the lawsuit will bring to light information that has been hidden from the public for 16 years, Newsday reports. The complaint states that the September 11 attacks “could not have occurred absent the knowing and substantial assistance provided to al-Qaida by Saudi Arabia.”
The lawsuit is possible because in September 2016, Congress overrode President Obama’s veto of legislation that allowed 9/11 survivors and families to sue Saudi Arabia. Many 9/11 families have demanded a full accounting of the Saudis’ actions, if any, in the attacks, but details have remained hidden behind the wall of classified information and Saudi Arabia’s status as a U.S. ally. The194-page lawsuit claims that Saudi officials funneled millions to al-Qaida through bin Laden’s friends, government employees, and government-controlled “charity” organizations. In the months before September 11, Saudi “employees and agents” funneled cash to al-Qaida through a mosque in Culver City, California, a small city close to Los Angeles International Airport, and other “organizations, individuals and/or private businesses.” From May to September 11, 2001, U.S. officials sent “urgent requests for assistance from Saudi Arabia” to help locate someone in the country who had maintained contact with a high-ranking al-Qaida operative involved in the planning of an upcoming unspecified al-Qaida attack on the United States.
Thousands Suffer Cancer and Serious Health Issues
In the years since the attacks, thousands of first responders, volunteers in the clean up and recovery efforts, utility and sanitation workers, Lower Manhattan residents, and people who worked or went to school in the World Trade Center area have suffered serious health problems linked to the toxins released in the collapse of the towers.
The dust and debris that hovered over Lower Manhattan contained a mix of toxic compounds, including asbestos; pulverized cement; polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); benzene; dioxin; glass fibers; gypsum; jet fuel; heavy metals (including lead); irritants; toxins; and carcinogens.
National law firm Parker Waichman notes that in addition to prostate and other cancers, 9/11 survivors have suffered a range of other illnesses, including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD); and mental health issues, including depression and anxiety disorder associated with the trauma of the attacks. Many women who were pregnant at the time gave birth to low birth weight babies and many of those children and children living in the area at the time of the attacks have suffered health problems and learning and behavior issues.
Medical researchers have identified more than 50 types of cancer linked to the toxins (in particular prostate cancer, thyroid cancer and multiple myeloma). As of June 30, 2016, 5,441 people enrolled in the World Trade Center Health Program had been diagnosed with 6,378 separate cancers, with some people suffering more than one type of cancer. Researchers say the 9/11 community is experiencing prostate and thyroid cancers, leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma at a significantly higher rate than expected in the general population.
Some people suffer more than one 9/11-related illness or cancer, and for many, the toxic exposure exacerbated existing health conditions. While some responders and survivors became ill on or soon after 9/11, many 9/11-related illnesses took years to emerge. Health experts expect illnesses to continue to emerge for years to come.
In December 2015, Congress reauthorized the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which provides health benefits and compensation to 9/11 responders and survivors who suffer illnesses and injuries from the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The original legislation was passed in 2010 and signed into law by President Obama in 2011.
In the reauthorization, health benefits were extended for 75 years, until 2090, the New York Daily News reports. Joseph Zadroga, father of detective James Zadroga for whom the act is named, said, “It’s a very good day.” James Zadroga died in January 2006 from illness caused by toxic exposures at ground zero.
Legal Help for Those Suffering 9/11-Related Illnesses
The attorneys at Parker Waichman have worked with and for 9/11 victims through the years since the attacks. If you or someone you know suffers cancer or other illness linked to 9/11 toxic exposures, please contact Parker Waichman LLP for an evaluation of your situation. To reach the firm, fill out the online form or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).